Economic Annals of the Nineteenth Century

By William Smart | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER I
AT THE END OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY1

THE war with France, into which Pitt had been driven against his better judgment, had now been going on for seven years, and its popularity had long since waned. In 1797, almost every city, county, and town of note in England and Ireland had petitioned the King for the removal of his Ministers, and " the consequent return of peace." The question was being loudly asked, both within Parliament and outside, whether anything was to be gained by continuing a struggle in which England had no direct interest. Was the government of France really of such a character that it was "not safe to enter into negotiation with it?" Whatever it might have been at the outset, was this any longer a "just and necessary war " --a " war for security " --or was it a war for the restoration of the Bourbons?

State of the war.

Every month seemed adding to the strength of France. Buonaparte, escaping from Egypt in the autumn of 1799, had overthrown the Directory, and become First Consul in 1800 -- already, it was noted, il parle en roi. In May, he crossed the Great St. Bernard, overthrew our allies, the Austrians, at Marengo in July, and became master of Italy. In December, Moreau, co-operating with him, crushed them in South Germany, and forced Austria

____________________
1
"In France, as in England, there have been disputes about the commencement of the eighteenth century. The astronomer Lalande thus determines the question, which, he says, was equally agitated at the end of the last century; he having, in his library, a pamphlet published on the subject. 'Many persons,' says he, 'imagine that, because, after having counted 17, they commence 18, the century must be changed, but this is a mistake; for,,when 100 years are to be counted, we must pass from 99, and we arrive at 100; we have changed the 10 before we have finished the 100. Whatever calculation is to be made, we commence by 1, and finish by 100; nobody has ever thought of commencing at 0, and finishing by 99.' Thus he concludes that the present year 1800 incontestably belongs to the eighteenth century." Annual Register, 1800, Chron. 6.

-1-

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